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LEXINGTON, KY— A trio of Kindergarten divisions highlighted the latter part of the Thursday night card at The Red Mile, with round three of the freshmen trotting series attracting 29 colts.   Indiana-native Airman Batten bested series-leader French Laundry as the 1-2 favorite in 1:57.1.   Driver Lewayne Miller protected the pylons with Airman Batten as French Laundry was in pursuit of the front. After tucking into the pocket, Airman Batten passed the quarter in :30. Slowing the tempo to the half, Boots N Chains brushed to the lead from sixth. Airman Batten yielded to the 22-1 shot in 1:01.2 (:31.2).   Airman Batten was patient around the far turn, pulling out of the pocket once passed three-quarters, which was timed in 1:30.2 (:29). Airman Batten slowly made his way passed Boots N Chains, who was drifting far off the pylons. French Laundry attempted to close at the inside, but settled for third as Airman Batten was a length winner over Boots N Chains in 1:57.1 (:26.4).   A colt by Swan For All, out of the mare Ladylike Volo by Yankee Glide, Airman Batten is owned by Paymaq Racing, Harvey Eisman and Greg Gillis and is trained by Erv Miller. He paid $3.00 to win.   Wicker Hanover sat patiently in the mid-pack and swept by his competition in the stretch to win in 1:57.   P Mac Attack took command, with True Blue Stride tucking into the pocket and Ferragamo progressing first over. Past a quarter in :28.2, Ferragamo went on to take control. P Mac Attack sat behind as Ferragamo passed the half in :57.4 (:29.2).   Into the far turn, True Blue Stride broke from third as P Mac Attack angled to the outside with Wicker Hanover on his tail. Ferragamo was starting to lose his stride at three-quarters in 1:27.3 (:29.4).   P Mac Attack inherited the front upon Ferragamo’s break in the stretch. Wicker Hanover fanned three wide and trotted by for driver Andrew McCarthy and won by 2 lengths at the finish over Cinnabar Hall, Ss Poseidon, and P Mac Attack in 1:57 (:29.2).   Wicker Hanover is by Explosive Matter, out of the Conway Hall mare Won An Done. Owned by Christer Haggstrom Racing Stable Inc. and trained by Noel Daley, he paid $9.40 to win. This was the first win of his career.   In the final division, Musical Rhythm sat at the pylons for the whole mile and found room in the final eighth to score in 1:56.4.   First-time starter Iron showed speed, with Bighandsbiggloves getting away second and Musical Rhythm in third. Iron passed the quarter in :28.4. He was uncontested up to the half, timed in :59 (:30.1).   Suit And Tie pulled first over from fourth around the far turn and was stride-for-stride with Iron heading to three-quarters. Iron had a slight advantage through three-quarters in 1:28.4 (:29.4).   Suit And Tie had a nose in front at the top of the lane, while Iron fought on towards the inside. Musical Rhythm slowly eased his way up the inside and took control approaching the finish. He won by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:56.4 (:28) over Suit And Tie, Iron and Bighandsbiggloves.   Musical Rhythm is by Cantab Hall, out of the Valley Victory mare Musical Victory. Owned by Mystical Marker Farms, In The Gym Parnters, Joe Sbrocco and T. Massey, trained by Tony Alagna and driven by Scott Zeron, he paid $13.80 to win. The 1:56.4 mile is a lifetime mark for Musical Rhythm.   French Laundry remains on top of the standings with 112 points, while Wheels Ah Smokin maintains second at 58 points and P Mac Attack is third with 55 points. Airman Batten, making his Kindergarten debut, is tied for fifth between Suit And Tie and Habitat at 50 points. Four divisions for filly trotters Round three of the Kindergarten series was contested on Thursday, September 11 at The Red Mile, with four divisions, compiled of forty freshmen filly trotters in all, carded for the weeknight action.   The opening division was taken by 30-1 shot Bee The Queen, doing so in a career best 1:56 over a good track.   Leaving the gate, Bee The Queen secured forward position as Sweet Thing, from post 7, began to make a move to the front. Clearing past a quarter of :28.3, public-choice Allerage Star then made her move towards the front, taking control at three-eighths.   Bee The Queen was shuffled to third and sat 2 ¾ lengths off the leader, Allerage Star, through a :57.4 (:29.1) half-mile.   Into the far turn, driver James Stiltner II pulled Bee The Queen first over and began to pursuit the lead. Past three-quarters in 1:27.4 (:30), she was up to the throat of Allerage Star. As Sweet Thing faltered behind them, Bee The Queen powered by the 3/5 favorite to win by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:56 (:28.1) over Allerage Star, Sarcy and Murderers Row.   A filly by Donato Hanover, out of the mare Bee Line by Self Possessed, Bee The Queen paid $62.00 to win, with the exacta returning $127.20 on a $2 investment. She is owned by Alfred Ross and trained by George Ducharme.   The second division saw another long shot, Waiting Room, foil the public choice at odds of 41-1 in 1:56.1.   Waiting Room was among a trio of leavers, with favored Lilu Hanover and Bright Baby Blues, from post 10, also heading to the front. Lilu Hanover was the pacesetter through a quarter in :28.3.   While Waiting Room remained in the pocket, Lady Clarabella traveled first over, with Josie’s Joy drafting behind her. That duo parked as Lilu Hanover remained in control through a :58.3 (:30) half.   Heading to three-quarters, Lilu Hanover was 1 ¾ lengths clear of pocket-sitter Waiting Room as they passed that station in 1:28.1 (:29.3). Encouraged for trot, Lilu Hanover did not respond in the stretch while Waiting Room popped out of the pocket, as well as Bright Baby Blues from third. Waiting Room gained control while Bright Baby Blues stalled to her outside. Waiting Room remained in front at the finish, winning by a half-length over Bright Baby Blues, Lilu Hanover and Bright Eyes in a lifetime-best 1:56.1 (:27.3).   Paying $85.60 to win, Waiting Room is by Credit Winner, out of the mare Wedding Dress by Muscles Yankee. She is owned by Andy Miller Stables Inc., Little E LLC, and Lawrence Dumain, trained by Julie Miller and was driven by Charlie Norris.   Gold Cora ironically defied the odds, winning the third division as the 3/5 favorite in 1:57.   Gold Cora secured command at the inside, but Aarena Hanover brushed by to take the lead heading to the quarter. Classical Annie tucked into third and Morcredit Bluechip was fourth through a :28.4 quarter.   Driver Mike Lachance sent Gold Cora back to the front and cleared the lead with ease approaching the half. He was uncontested through a :58.3 (:29.4) half-mile.   Into the far turn, Morcredit Bluechip took to the outside, but stalled as Gold Cora maintained a 1 ¾ lengths lead passed three-quarters in 1:28.2 (:29.4). Aarena Hanover attempted to slingshot out of the pocket, while Classical Annie was gradually gaining ground three wide. Aarena Hanover dropped out of the battle from in between horses and Gold Cora, despite getting a little rough-gaited in the stretch, held off the bid of Classical Annie to win by 1 length in 1:57 (:28.3).    Rob Key owns the filly by Encore Encore, out of the mare Striking Gold K by Striking Sahbra. Trained by Rich Gillock, she paid $3.20 to win.   With the break of 4/5 favorite Saturday Mornings, Rules Of The Road sat a perfect trip to slide by race leader Pad Princess to win at 19-1 in 1:57.   Rules Of The Road and Pad Princess left the gate well and battled for control through a :29.3 quarter. Approaching three-eighths, Pad Princess cleared the lead while Rules Of The Road drafted in second. Pad Princess led past the half in :57.4 (:28.1).   Wordie Hanover was flushed first over entering the far turn and gradually made his way to Pad Princess. The two were neck-and-neck through a 1:28 (:30.1) third-quarter.   Wordie Hanover stalled first over and Pad Princess began to drift off the pylons, leaving room for Rules Of The Road to squeeze through and win by 1 length in 1:57 over Pad Princess, What Ru Going Todo, and Meadowbranch Lulu.   Owned by Arden Homestead Stable and trainer Janice Connor and driven by Chuck Connor Jr., the daughter of Muscle Hill, out of the mare Right On Renee by Andover Hall, paid $41.00 to win.   Bee The Queen currently leads in the standings with 108 points, while Lady Clarabella sits second with 100 points and Allerage Star is tied for third with 75 points to Josie’s Joy.   The fourth preliminary of the Kindergarten series has been moved from Friday, September 19 to Thursday, September 18. Declaration time is at 10:00 A.M. on Monday, September 15.    by Ray Cotolo, for the Red Mile  

Billy Haughton is tied with Mike Lachance for the most wins by a driver in the Little Brown Jug at five. However, Haughton also trained a record six winners. Stanley Dancer is second in that category with four. He is truly the “King” of the Little Brown Jug. Haughton drove in 28 editions; some years he handled more than one horse. His first was Ankaway in 1949 when he was 26-years-old, and his last was Panorama, in the final heat of the 1984 Jug when he was 60. Good Time won that 1949 edition—the fourth—for Frank Ervin. Haughton managed to finish third in his second heat with the modestly skilled Ankaway. And it would be three years before he made it back to the race, this time with Wilmingtons Star, who won a heat and went on to win the Good Time Pace at Yonkers the following year. The 29-year-old was getting noticed. He led the nation in earnings; finished second in wins; and was the top driver at Roosevelt Raceway. It took three years for all those accolades to translate into a win in the Little Brown Jug. It came in 1955 with Quick Chief, a quality pacer who took his division at two and three, won the Cane, and was the first sophomore colt to earn $100,000. 40,000 attended the race that year and there were 17 entered. Haughton was 32-years-old and regularly topping Stanley Dancer, Joe O’Brien and Johnny Simpson in wins and money. Haughton had a couple of more shots at the classic in the 1950’s, his best being with the Jug Trial winner, Bachelor Hanover, a half-brother to Dancer Hanover. But Noble Adios, a full-brother to the winner of the 1954 Jug, Adios Harry, proved too tough. It would be 1964, nine years after his first win, that Haughton got his second with Vicar Hanover, a speedy son of Torpid. He and Combat Time, driven by Bruce Nickells, were co-favorites in the race-off at 4-5, but it was the 25-year veteran, Haughton, who slipped off the rail and took the prize. Despite the raw 50 degree temperatures, the race generated a record handle of $184,497. Haughton was slated to start a five day suspension in New York the following day; the win made that a little more palatable. The following year Romeo Hanover, who was so dominant that he was barred from the betting, won convincingly for George Sholty, while Haughton was seventh with the Tar Heel colt, Clay. Romeo had impressed Haughton as a freshman with wins in the Sheppard and the Roosevelt Pace, so he bought his younger brother Romulus at the sales for what he considered a bargain price of $35,000. Haughton said repeatedly that Romulus was the greatest horse he had ever driven, so it was particularly disheartening for him to have his star give him mediocre results in the first two heats and ultimately to be scratched from the race-off when it was discovered he was running a 104 degree temperature. The fact that the race was delayed a day due to heavy rain probably didn’t help matters any. Ohio bred and owned Best Of All won that Jug for Jim Hackett. Ah, but all was not lost; the following year, when Haughton was 45-years-old, he got his third LBJ triumph with Triple Crown winner Rum Customer, who went on to be the fourth millionaire in the history of the sport.   He won each of his heats in 1:59.3, the final one at 1-5. Haughton won more than a million dollars in purse money that year, for the third time in his career, and in July of 1969 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Two months later he separated himself from fellow three-time winners Frank Ervin and John Simpson Sr. when he captured his fourth Jug with Laverne Hanover, who won 22 of 23 starts the previous year and 21 of 28 at three. During the next four-year stretch Haughton received the Award of Merit from the Grand Circuit for winning more top dollar races than anyone else in the sport, but that didn’t help him beat the likes of Most Happy Fella, Nansemond and Strike Out in the Jug. Although in the fifth year, 1974, when he was 51-years-old, Haughton experienced his most satisfying Jug Victory with the Airliner colt  Armbro Omaha, who had gone 2 for 17 as a freshman. This was the colt 19-year-old Peter got his first big win with when Del Miller convinced Billy to let the kid drive him in the Prix d’Ete. He won his division that year. This was Haughton’s fifth Jug win. In subsequent years Billy tried his hand at winning a sixth with Bret’s Champ, Boehm’s Eagle, Windshield Wiper, Crash, Falcon Almahurst, Set Point, Trenton Time, Set The Style, McKinzie Almahurst, Ticket To Ride and Panorama, but none of them crossed the line first in the final. During this dry period, in January, 1980, Peter was killed in an automobile accident at age 25. Haughton achieved that sixth training win with Nihilator in 1985. It was his first start over a half-mile track and the fleet son of Niatross won in 1:52.1 for Bill O’Donnell. Nine weeks later, 27 days after Haughton’s 62 birthday, Nihilator was retired with a record of 35 wins in 38 starts. And seven months later, while driving Sonny Key in the first Sheppard elimination at Yonkers, Haughton was rendered unconscious when thrown violently to the track. He succumbed to his injuries ten days later. Bill Haughton participated in the Little Brown Jug most years between 1949 and 1964 and every year during the 19 year span from 1966 to 1985. We are approaching the 28th edition to be raced since he was taken from us. The fact that no driver or trainer has outdone him over all those years speaks to his greatness. by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

Batavia, NY---The last chance to see the best bred standardbreds in the Empire State race at Batavia Downs this year occurs on Saturday night (Sept. 6) when the New York Sire Stakes makes its last stop at the Genesee County oval for 2014. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings are featured as the stars of tomorrow and will compete for $109,000 in purses. The first $54,500 NYSS division goes as the fifth race and features seven pacers going postward. Americanprimetime (American Ideal-Prime Example A) is currently ranked second in points for the Night of Champions finals for his sex and gait and boasts a 1:52.4 lifetime mark at Tioga Downs this year. This Rick Dane Jr. trained colt likes to be on the front end and will get his chance here scoring from post three. He has made two breaks in his six starts but when he is on his game he's hard to beat. Brent Holland will sit behind Americanprimetime for the first time in this race. Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) beat Americanprimetime last week at Vernon Downs en route to taking his lifetime mark of 1:51.1. He has been lightly raced due to an injury in July and has only four starts this year. But he's made the most of the opportunities he has had and appears to be improving with every start. Betting Exchange needs points to move up in the standing in order to make the final and this will be his last chance to do it. Top NYSS reinsman Jim Morrill Jr. is aboard for trainer Tom Fanning. Azorean Art (Art Major-Dancin Barefoot) is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and looks to be coming into this race sharp as a tack. Also coming off a lifetime mark of 1:52.3 at Vernon last week, Azorean Art overcame road trouble the entire race and still found a way to win. Driver Mark MacDonald drove him for the first time in that victory and is back in the sulky here. Azorean Art is currently fifth in the standings but could move up substantially with a win. The second $54,500 NYSS division goes as race nine and has the top horse in the series competing in it. Southwind Masimo (Bettor's Delight-Max's Leading Lady) is a perfect four-for-four this year and all in NYSS action. He has won both on the front and from behind, and on both small and large tracks. The Pat LaChance trained colt took his lifetime mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs, but he actually paced faster last quarters in his two starts at Yonkers. However Southwind Masimo is coming into this race off a scratch at Vernon last week when he reported sick, so the colt has not raced in 18 days. Whether or not this will affect his performance remains to be seen, but having Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance on board will certainly help his cause. Cartoon Daddy (Art Major-Ask Alice) has four wins in seven starts this year and oddly enough, all four wins were on half-mile tracks. He has a sparkling lifetime mark of 1:53.4 at Yonkers Raceway which is considerably faster than any other horse in this race has paced over a half-mile track. He is currently third in points and could vault to number one with a victory. Cartoon Daddy hails from the powerful Ron Burke stable and will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Bet You (Bettor's Delight-Armbro Amoretto) has two wins and three seconds in six starts this year and the only time he finished off the board was due to an interference break. Also a Takter trainee, Bet You has displayed racing versatility on the track and seems to be brave on the front end. His mark is 1:55.1 at Yonkers but he paced considerably faster in a just-beaten mile at Tioga Downs in 1:52.4. Bet You is right behind Cartoon Daddy in the points standing and could also take the top spot with a win. Mark MacDonald gets his second straight ride behind him in here. There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series to be contested in races one, two and seven going for a total of $37,800. Post time for the first race is 6:35. One other highlight for the night is the return of popular and second leading driver Shawn McDonough who was injured in a spill at Batavia Downs during a race on Labor Day. Only three days removed from the incident, McDonough will be back in the sulky on Friday night and is slated to drive the full card on Saturday. McDonough said "I'm doing pretty good. My ankle is still sore but not too bad, and I have been taking it easy the last few days. But now I'm ready to come back." -- Tim Bojarski

Kentucky Sires Stakes finals were a chance for a few Kentucky boys to stand in the winner's circle at The Red Mile Sunday night.   In the very first of the eight $175,000 finals, Randy Jerrell drove Armatrading to a 2:00 victory in the event for 2-year-old filly trotters. Jerrell also trains 2-year-old filly pace champion Cielle, who was driven by Mickey Pryor and bred and owned by Walter Fister. Fister also won the 3-year-old colt trot with his homebred Tinder (pictured), who was driven by Tyler Smith.   Day-long rains in the Lexington area turned the famous red clay oval at The Red Mile sloppy and the footing was less than ideal for the entire card. The 2-year-old colt trot went to Cinnabar Hall, who scored in 2:05.2 for trainer Pete Foley and driver Mike Lachance. Both filly winner Armatrading, who is trained by Ken Oscarsson, and Cinnabar Hall are by Groton Hall.   The pacing sire Third Straight hit a trifecta of sorts in the 2-year-old colt pace as his sons Bestbestraight, Straightonliberty and Teahouse Hall crossed the wire first, with Bestbestraight's winning time 1:59.1. Dave Palone drove the winner for trainer Steve Carter, who also trains the second and third-place finishers.   To view the rest of this story click here.

The best 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers in the Bluegrass State will be out in full force at The Red Mile on Sunday night, Aug. 31, as the historic Lexington racetrack hosts the $2 million Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) Championship Night. Each of the eight divisions for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers will vie for a purse of $175,000. All four 2013 KYSS 2-year-old champions will be on the track in their respective finals on Sunday in hopes of repeating. Last year's champion colt pacer On Golden Ponder has cruised to a pair of preliminary victories with driver John Campbell. The son of Ponder was on the sidelines all year until KYSS action, and he returned with scores in 1:57.2 and 1:54.3. Defending filly trot champ Petticoat Affair has finished second and third in both her preliminaries, which have been won by Dress For Success and Twice Too Nice. Petticoat Affair is sandwiched between the two on the starting gate in post 2, with Dress For Success in post 1 and Twice Too Nice in post 3. The final for sophomore filly pacers features defending divisional champ Somethinincredible and Rollin Deep, both daughters of Ponder. Somethinincredible may have her work cut out for her to repeat as she has finished second to Rollin Deep in both preliminaries. Campbell drives Somethinincredible while fellow Hall of Famer Mike Lachance sits behind Rollin Deep. The 3-year-old gelding trotter Sorrento Hall rounds out the returning champions, and he starts from post 6 in Race 7 with driver Lachance. The son of Groton Hall's lone win last year came in the KYSS final and he has yet to taste victory this year in six attempts. Both of that division's early rounds have been won by Tinder. In the finals for 2 year olds, four daughters of Groton Hall are in the five-horse filly trot, including preliminary winner Armatrading and Janey Eyre. Groton Hall's lone representative in the race for male trotters is Cinnabar Hall, likely the odds-on favorite after capturing both preliminaries. Bestbestraight, a son of Third Straight, bested his rivals in both preliminaries for freshman male pacers, the latter score a career-best 1:54.2. Dave Palone, the sport's all-time winningest driver, will be in the sulky from post 3. Cielle, also a daughter of Third Straight, will start from post 1 in the six-horse KYSS final for 2-year-old filly pacers and has six wins and two seconds in eight career starts, with her victories including a sweep of the KYSS preliminaries. Post time for Sunday's Kentucky Sires Stakes Championship night is 7 p.m. There is a guaranteed Pick-4 pool of $10,000 offered on races 6-9. Concession-stand specials Sunday include $1 hot dogs, soft drinks and beer. The clubhouse is also open for fine dining, with reservations made by calling (859) 233-0814. From the Red Mile press box

CENTURION ATM TAKES $355,500 PETER HAUGHTON

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 30, 2014 - Saturday's Hambletonian Day 15-race card at the Meadowlands is loaded with rich stakes worth nearly $3.6 million in purse money, including the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and its filly companion race, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey. The two stakes for New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers are early in the card - the third race for the Miss New Jersey and the fourth race for the New Jersey Classic - and have the possibility of being two of the most contentious and bettor-friendly events, with no prohibitive favorites. Racing conditions for the two stakes were amended to eliminate eliminations. The finals are limited to the 10 highest lifetime money-winning horses in the entry box. To further sweeten the pot, even those who do not share in the top five purse distribution will not go home empty-handed. The connections of the New Jersey Classic colts finishing sixth through 10 will receive $1,500 each while the connections of the Miss New Jersey fillies will receive $1,000 each. "We are very pleased that we have full and competitive fields for both stakes, in fact, 11 entered in each with 10 going postward," said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey [SBOANJ], which sponsors the two races. "We feel stallions will return to New Jersey once we have casino-infused purses, a likelihood in the next few years, but for now we are trying our best to make it worthwhile for breeders to support our program and owners to buy New Jersey-sired offspring with the opportunity to compete in such events as the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey," Luchento added. Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1   Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ

This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Hanover Colt Stakes and Hanover Filly Stakes, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off this Friday (Aug. 1) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and 2-year-old filly trotters. There will be three $10,000 divisions for the colts and five $10,000 divisions for the fillies. The big Saturday afternoon (Aug. 2) program is led by the $1,006,125 Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $300,650 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $177,750 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on Saturday, Balmoral Park will host the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Crete oval will feature the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. Tioga Downs on Sunday will feature the $78,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $67,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Confronted by a challenger who would not go away, 1-5 favorite McWicked dug in, blazed the back half in an amazing :53.2 and captured this past Saturday's (July 26) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows. McWicked held off Somewhere In L A at the wire to win the Delvin Miller Adios. With the 1:49.1 victory, Casie Coleman, who conditions McWicked for S S G Stables, became the first female trainer to win an Adios final in the 48-year-history of this important test for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Leaving from post two, David Miller was able to give McWicked a rather leisurely half in :55.4 on the front. When Brett Miller moved Somewhere In L A uncovered down the backside and the pair looked McWicked in the eye, the battle was on. However, McWicked edged away in deep stretch to triumph in 1:49.1, a length better than his gallant rival. Cammikey was a ground-saving third. With the win, McWicked pushed his career bankroll to $798,447 and extended a prolonged roll that has seen him sweep the eliminations and final of the Max Hempt Memorial and the Adios. Many of the sport's stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none were brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial trot in a world record 1:50. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track. Yannick Gingras sent the handsome 5-year-old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked :26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was a geared down 1-3/4 length winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga rounded out the qualifiers from this elimination for this Saturday's Cashman final. Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer. Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian K as they reached the quarter in a dazzling :26. The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed the inquiry sign and reviewed the move, and was back to the top. Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a :27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horses late to be second, Uncle Peter was third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in this week's race. The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 509; 2. Tim Tetrick - 443; 3. Ron Pierce - 307; 4t. Brian Sears - 205; 4t. David Miller - 205. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 884.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3t. PJ Fraley - 189; 3t. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Joe Holloway - 154. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 206.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 188; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. S S G Stables - 80. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows with the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old colt trotters; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for older pacers; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

The annual Tattersalls Summer Mixed Sale at The Meadowlands witnessed hot and fast bidding that resulted in a 34.7% increase in average per horse sale price from the previous year.   Of the 123 racehorses that sold for a gross of $2,544,200, the average reached $20,685. The main attraction of the well-attended Harness Horse auction was the "drop-in-the-box" nature of the 30 horses that raced in the two days prior to the sale, and over 100 that raced in the last week.   The highlight of the sale was the offering of World Champion trotter Sevruga 1:50.3 who was a $160,000 post-sale purchase. A winner of over $1 million lifetime, he will start in the $300,000 John Cashman, Jr Memorial on Hambo Day for new owners Scott and Joe Pennacchio.   Long-time horse owner, amateur driver, and current president of the Florida Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association, Joe Pennacchio noted that Sevruga "was one of the rare, great trotters around, and may be in just a little over his head in Grand Circuit stakes company. We look forward to racing him in Open and Late Closing events."   Consigned by Northwood Bloodstock Agency, Sevruga was one of nearly 50 horses represented by Bob Boni. Following the sale, Boni noted pleasure with the day's events and stated that "it was a very strong horse sale. Good horses sold well, as they usually do."   The annual racehorse reduction of Jules Siegel's Fashion Farm was particularly well-received, bolstered by several high-priced youngsters. Topping the overall 2-year-old sales was the PA eligible Broadway Hall gelding On The Sly, who showed consistently flat lines around 1:58 and fetched $51,000 from Barbara Boese of Milton, DE.   Preferred Equine Marketing represented another well-placed $75,000 Fashion Farm sale with the American Ideal colt, Ideal Fashion p,3,1:52.1f--`14. Kyle Spagnola signed for the 3-year-old NY eligible colt who had just won his last start at Yonkers in 1:53.4h.   Toward the end of the sale, prospective purchasers not willing to go home empty handed saw stars with Moonliteonthebeach p,4,1:51--`14, who was consigned by Preferred Equine Marketing for Scott Kimelman and the Blue Chip Bloodstock Partners. The bidding was fierce and competitive for the handsome 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere who just paced in 1:49.3 finishing second at Pocono just 12 hours before the sale. When the dust settled, Andrew Harris signed the winning $85,000 ticket for trainer P.J. Fraley and owner Jeff Bamond.   Lynch winning 3-year-old pacing filly Fancy Desire p,3,1:49 was the anticipated sale topper, and was hammered down for $195,000, however failed to reach the required reserve price.   Tattersalls sales manager David Reid was happy with the overall results of the sale, and was optimistic about the health of the industry. "Sales have been good. This was a very active group of racehorses, which always translates into active bidding. My only disappointment was the relative absence of Canadian buyers. It serves as a true indicator of the importance of the slots programs in these regional markets. Having said that, with an eye on the future, bring on the Hambletonian." by Chris Tully, for Tattersalls  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 22, 2014--Yonkers Raceway Tuesday night hosted the $200,200 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace. The event--for 2-year-oled fillies--was contested in nearly-quartered, $50,050 divisions. The dance team of trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras combined in three of the events...and won each of those. The first grouping was, as advertised, a Westchester waltz for odds-on Sassa Hanover ($2.10). In play from post position No. 5, she pocketed Bin N Heaven (Dough McNair), then strolled through relaxed rest stops of :29.1, :59 and 1:28. A :27.4 final quarter (life-best 1:55.4) saw her end up 2¾ lengths better than "Bin," who herself raced very well from an outside post. Third went to Vraka Hanover (Tim Tetrick). "Sassa," a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Larry Karr, is 2-for-2 (both in NYSS). The exacta paid $6.80, with the triple (three wagering favorites in order) returned $12.80. With no show wagering, more than $19,000 of the $20,000-plus in the place pool was in support of Sassa Hanover. "I've been impressed since I baby-raced her," Gingras said. "Tonight was basically a training mile. You want to see manners and guts when they're just beginning, and she showed both." Trainer/driver also took down the third and fourth sub-sections with faves Band of Angels ($5) in a night's-fastest/life-best 1:54.4, and Bettor N Better ($2.70) in 1:56. "(Band of Angels) was able to rate (:29, :58.2, 1:27.4), but a '27' last quarter here for a 2-year-old is something," Gingras said. The daughter of Rock N' Roll Heaven defeated One Hot Majorette (Mark MacDonald) by a half-length, with Ameritime (Brent Holland) third. "I thought Bettor N Better may have a behind the other two (Sassa Hannover and Band of Angels) early, but she's catching up fast. I would have been just as happy sitting behind Timmy (Tetrick, driving Zip Code Envy), but it worked out with me cutting the mile. Bettor N Better, a Bettor's Delight lass, was a length better than a first-up Heavenly Bride (Brian Sears) in life-best effort, with Zip Code Envy third. All three of the Burke/Gingras winners are 2-for-2 to begin their careers, with NYSS wins here and Monticello. Newly-minted Harness Hall of Famer Dave Miller and an off-the-pace Bettor Be Steppin' ($16.80) won the second NYSS event in a maiden-breaking 1:56.4. Starting from post No. 6, she held off 58-1 My Little Delight (Jason Bartlett) by a neck in battle of closers, with Bullville Maggie (Gingras) third. Even-money choice She's Heavenly (Mike Lachance) brushed to the lead, met pressure from Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore), then faded to last. "She was zigging and zagging a bit late," Miller said of Bettor B Steppin'. "It was her first start on a half, and the last turn may have come up a bit quicker than she was ready for." The daughter of Bettor's Delight, trained by Joe Holloway, New York Sire Stakes continue Thursday night, with the $217,000 Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts/geldings. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 16 - Sebastian K's dominance may be overshadowing his competition, but Creatine is taking steps early in his four-year-old season to be a contender with the older trotters. Creatine and driver Mike Lachance will start from post seven in Saturday night's $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot final. A son of Andover Hall - Berry Nice Muscles, Creatine banked over $800,000 last year as a three-year-old, with his biggest victory coming in the Kentucky Futurity. This season, the Bob Stewart trainee has had to quickly make the transition from age three-to-four to compete with a talented group of older trotters led by Sebastian K In four starts, Creatine has yet to find the winner's circle, but has shown he can hang with the big boys by picking up a cheque in three of his four starts. In the Maple Leaf Trot elimination, Creatine finished second and four lengths behind winner Sebastian K., but the effort pleased his conditioner. "We were very happy with him, Mike (Lachance) actually never pulled the ear plugs," said Stewart following the elimination. "He saw he was going to be second and he was coming back in six days from a very tough trip at the Meadowlands, we couldn't be happier actually." Before the Maple Leaf Trot elimination, Creatine finished fifth in the Hambletonian Maturity, a race restricted for four-year-old trotters only. While Creatine has shown he can compete with the older trotters, Stewart said he would have liked to have seen more opportunities for the four-year-olds to compete against each other, rather than having to jump right in against the heavyweights. "It's very tough (transition from three-to-four)...they should have made that Hambletonian Maturity a series of three races and a final," said Stewart. "They had the money to do it and these four-year-olds would've been able to get their legs underneath themselves a little more." Creatine and the rest of the top older trotters may be wishing their was a stake race without Sebastian K as the "Scandinavian Powerhouse" has yet to be lose in five starts. Stewart said it was bad timing that this was the season he had a competitive older trotter. "It's just unfortunate that he had to come back as a four-year-old the year that Sebastian K showed up, any other year I would feel better about the situation." Heading into the Maple Leaf Trot final, Stewart admits Sebastian K will have to be off his game to get beat and hopes he can find some races down the road to avoid the world's fastest trotter. "To be realistic you don't see him every beating Sebastian K, unless Sebastian K slips some, but he's eligible to everything and hopefully for our sake there are some races at Indiana and a race in Ohio that hopefully Sebastian K won't go to," Sebastian K may hold down the spot as top older trotter, but Stewart is confident that Creatine is good enough to be right there in second. "He's going to hold his own against all the rest of them I think." by Mark McKelvie, for WEG  

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 15 - A stellar 13-race card featuring the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been assembled for Saturday night (July 19) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), highlights the field of ten for the 63rd edition of Canada's most storied trotting event, the Maple Leaf Trot (Race 9). The eight-year-old "Scandinavian Powerhouse" won his elimination last Friday (July 11) for trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt in 1:52.2. Upon earning the right to select his post position for the final, Svandstedt selected the rail as the starting spot for his prized trotter. Svandstedt, a top horseman in his native Sweden for many years, relocated his stable to North America this season and is in the midst of a successful campaign, thanks in large part to Sebastian K who is a perfect five for five on North American soil. The high point of the season thus far for Sebastian K was a seven-length victory in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs on June 28, in which he became the fastest trotter in the history of harness racing with a jaw-dropping mile time of 1:49. Before coming to North America, Sebastian K had victories in top events such as the 2013 Oslo Grand Prix, a heat of the 2013 Elitlopp and the 2012 UET Trotting Masters. The nine rivals who will look to knock Sebastian K off the top of the mountain, include the last two Maple Leaf Trot winners, Mister Herbie ('12) and Market Share ('13). Market Share won the second elimination last week in 1:53 with a last quarter of :26.4 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Linda Toscano. His connections selected post position two for the final. The five-year-son of Revenue - Classical Flirt is the richest horse in the field with over $3.2 million in career earnings. Market Share followed up his Maple Leaf Trot victory last year with a triumph in the Breeders Crown. His career highlights also include two million-dollar race victories in 2012 in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk. Leading the charge for the local horses will be Mister Herbie, who finished runner-up to Market Share in not only his elimination last week, but also in last year's final. The Jeff Gillis trainee won the 2012 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4 and was last year's O'Brien Award winner as top older trotter in Canada. Mister Herbie will start from post six and will be driven by Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image. The seven other challengers in the field are a group of well accomplished standardbreds. Intimidate, a past Breeders Crown and O'Brien Award winner, will start from post three for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais. Ron Burke, North America's leading trainer, will send out two starters. Archangel, post four, was the 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, while Wishing Stone, post five, has had success in both North America and Europe with victories in the 2012 Copenhagen Cup in Denmark and the 2013 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia. Creatine, last year's Kentucky Futurity winner, will start from post seven for the duo of Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance and trotting conditioner Bob Stewart. Undercover Strike will leave from post eight and is a Preferred winner at both Mohawk and the Meadows. He is sent out by trainer Tony O'Sullivan and will be driven by Doug McNair. Flanagan Memory, who won last year's Goodtimes, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and an O'Brien Award, starts from post nine for trainer Rene Dion and Woodbine/Mohawk's leading driver Chris Christoforou. Modern Family, a multiple stakes winner, will start from post ten for trainer Daryl Bier and will have Ron Pierce, a two-time Maple Leaf Trot winner, in the sulky. The field of ten for the Maple Leaf Trot has combined for 188 career victories and career earnings of $13,837,506. The Maple Leaf Trot undercard will feature four Canadian Breeders Championships (Races 2,3,7,10) for three-year-olds. Trevor Ritchie, a three-time Maple Leaf Trot winning driver ('03 Rotation, '06 Peaceful Way, '07 Equinox Bi), recently announced his retirement from driving. Ritchie will be on hand Saturday night to present the trophy to this year's winner and will be a special guest on Mohawk Racing Live's pre-game show beginning at 6:45 p.m. Post time for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot card is 7:25 p.m, with the Maple Leaf Trot expected to go behind the gate at 10:05 p.m. Here is the field for the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot. Race 9 - Maple Leaf Trot - Purse: $603,000 PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer/Morning Line 1. Sebastian K - Ake Svandstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 2/5 2. Market Share - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano - 6-1 3. Intimidate - Sylvain Filion - Luc Blais - 12-1 4. Archangel - Jody Jamieson - Ron Burke - 10-1 5. Wishing Stone - Randall Waples - Ron Burke - 20-1 6. Mister Herbie - Steve Condren - Jeff Gillis - 15-1 7. Creatine - Mike Lachance - Bob Stewart - 15-1 8. Undercover Strike - Doug McNair - Tony O'Sullivan - 25-1 9. Flanagan Memory - Chris Christoforou - Rene Dion - 25-1 10. Modern Family - Ron Pierce - Daryl Bier - 20-1 AE: Wheeling N Dealin - Jody Jamieson - Luc Blais - N/A by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

Even though the overwhelming majority of the 2 year-old pacing fillies in the $110,000 New York Sires Stakes at Monticello Raceway Friday were making their first pari-mutuel starts they raced like veterans. Sassa Hanover, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven turned in the fastest mile of the evening when Jimmy Morrill, Jr. guided her to a gate to wire two- length triumph in a time of 1:56.3. It turned out to be the Jimmy Morrill, Jr. show as the talented reinsman also scored victories with Bettor N Better in 1:58 and Band of Angels in1:58.3. Mike Lachance won the other NYSS division with She's Heavenly in 1:57.3. But the star of the show was undoubtedly Sassa Hanover who's trained by Ron Burke. Undefeated in her two previous baby races over the mile oval at Gaitway Farm Morrill sent the filly to the lead from the seven hole as the gate sprung and they took command as they rounded the first turn and sped by the first stanza in :29. They were two lengths in front as they passed the halfway point in :59.1 and up the backside Morrill let out a notch and Sassa Hanover zoomed by the three quarters in 1:28.2. As they rounded the final turn Zeke Parker rallied Mosquito Blue Chip from far back and challenged the leader but Sassa Hanover kicked in a :28.1 final quarter and was a solid two length winner over Parker's filly in 1:56.3. "I've been waiting for her all night," Morrill said of Sassa Hanover who was in the 10th and final race on the card. "I love this filly. She's big and strong and surprisingly well-mannered (for a youngster). Believe me, she's the real deal." Owned by Burke Racing Panhellenic Stable and Weaver-Buscemi Sassa Hanover paid $6.30 for win. Morrill's first victory came with another Ron Burke- trainee when he sat the pocket and rallied to victory down the passing lane to score with Band Of Angels, another daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven. But a :28.2 last quarter was needed for the neck triumph over Zip Code Envy, driven by Mark MacDonald. Band Of Angels is owned by W J Donovan who returned a$5.80 win mutuel. Morrill also scored with the good looking Bettor Delight filly, Bettor N Better. After gaining command at the quarter in :29.1 Morrill yielded the lead and waited patiently in fourth position as he searched for daylight. When the field headed for home Morrill found room on the inside and rallied the filly to a one length victory over Heaven's Legacy and driver Brent Holland. The victory gave trainer Ron Burke hi third win on the card. Bettor N Better is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock and Our Horse Cents Stable. She paid $4.70 for win. Mike Lachance and She's Heavenly made a laugher out of their division as they romped to an easy wire to wire five- length triumph over Fan Mail and Jimmy Morrill, Jr. She's Heavenly is owned and trained by Bob Horowitz. She paid $3.10 for win. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

On Friday evening, July 4th, Monticello Raceway will host 2 year old pacing fillies in both the New York Sire Stakes and the Excelsior Series. Four NYSS events, along with six Excelsior's, will offer over $174,000 to the owners of the fillies most of whom will be making their first pari-mutuel starts. And when the races are completed a Fabulous fireworks display will be presented. The NYSS events mark the first of eight legs for the freshmen fillies at various New York racetracks en route to the $225,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on September 13. Along the way the competing fillies will earn points in each leg, depending on the placements, with the top eight point recipients earning a berth in the rich finale. The majority of the entrants are daughters of American Ideal, Art Major, Rock N Roll Heaven and Bettor's Delight although an array of other New York sires progeny dot the 10- race program that features only New York-bred stakes fillies. Granted, it's hard to expound on any of these fillies since they are in the infancy of their racing careers but some already have shown signs of brilliance. Take Bob Horowitz's She's Heavenly, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven who'll come into this contest off a 1:55.1 triumph in a baby race at the Meadowlands on June 28. She'll be driven by Mike Lachance. Or, how about Jimmy Takter's undefeated Zip Code Envy, another Rock N Roll filly who has won all three of her baby races at the Meadowlands with her 1:56.1 clocking on June 27 the best of the three. She's owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding and Brixton Medical Ab and will be handled by Yannick Gingris. Then there's the Bettor's Delight filly, Bettor N Better, from the powerful Ron Burke barn. She comes in off a 1:56.3 victory in a baby race over Gaitway Farm's mile oval on June 23. She's owned by Our Horse Cents Stable and Blue Chip Bloodstock and will have Jimmy Morrill Jr at the controls. However, the last race on the card, a$27,750 NYSS, has by far the strongest field with seven of the eight pacing fillies winners in non-wagering events led by Ronald Mersky's First Delight, a Bettor's Delight filly who is three-for-three over Saratoga's double oval with her 2:01.2 twelve-length triumph in her last start on June 27 the best. Cheryl McGovern trains her and Mike Lachance will drive. Two others in that contest are also undefeated thus far both with two baby race victories. Lady Beth, a Kenneth J filly owned by Ken Jacobs, Slo Down Stable, Ed Namiotka, Jr and Vincent Tangredi, has two consecutive wins for trainer Sam Serianni, the fastest a 1:58 clocking at Vernon Downs on June 20. Jimmy Morrill, Jr. will do the driving. And the Ron Burke -trained Sassa Hanover is also two-for-two with a 1:58.1 record on a 'good' track at Gaitway Farm on June 16. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Buscemi and Lawrence Karr and will be driven by Jimmy Morrill, Jr. Post time for the 10-race card will be at 5:30pm and 20 minutes after the final race fans will be treated to the raceway's 45th annual fireworks display. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway  

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